Back-to-School season always contributes greatly to my optimistic outlook on life. I am reminded of one of my favorite movie moments when Tom Hanks offers up a “bouquet of sharpened pencils” to Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. All things seem possible as students, families and teachers start anew.
For our new students and families, this is an especially exciting time with an entirely fresh start. We welcome families who are moving to Huntsville from as far away as Belgium and our Kindergarteners who are beginning a 13-year journey through the extraordinary experience of Randolph. As we in the Admissions Office have gotten to know all of our new families and students, we now enjoy watching as the whole community gets to know them as well. Our Randolph family has a chance to welcome and engage our new citizens, explaining our traditions, divulging our history and showing them why this is such a special place to be.
Leading the hospitality effort is the newly formed Admissions ambassador committee of the Randolph Parent Association. We kicked off the summer with our New Family Picnic and will have a new parent reception next Tuesday evening, on August 14. This gives everyone good conversation time with our administrators, other new families and our Student Ambassadors. In addition, each new family has been paired with a current family. We hope that those early connections can serve to orient new folks to the ways of Lower, Middle and Upper School life. We invite feedback about this program so that we can continue to improve this first year experience – I can’t tell you how valuable my conversations are with families about their admissions experience, from initial inquiry all the way through to enrollment!
For me, personally, my family feels brand new as my ‘lifer’ daughter Ally will take to the Upper School halls as a freshman. I’ve never felt more like a like a fish out of water than I do at this point in her schooling! I know I’m not alone in this as several friends have shared their feelings of uncertainty. Having gotten used to Ally being on the Drake campus for nine years, it will be quite an adjustment. This is a consolation for the parents of new freshmen because every student in the freshman class is in for a new adventure.
Ally is eager to go, of course, as are her classmates. The freshman retreat at Maranatha awaits, along with a uniform-free environment, laptops, cell phone use and a gigantic menu of electives. One mom worried that the teachers might not know her child the way that the Drake teachers know her. A seasoned mother of a 2012 graduate noted, “Oh, but her classmates know her.” This is so true! And teachers and advisors will continue that support as they get to know everyone on the Garth campus. All of our 9th graders will be in the same advisory groups together over the next four years, which adds another level of care and attention.
The shared experience of our graduates is part of the value of an independent school education. I am so excited for Ally in that regard and have that same enthusiasm for all of our students, new and old. How astoundingly optimistic the Back-to-School season is. Welcome (back) to Randolph, everyone!